Photo courtesy of Anoma Wijewardene


This is the green that has seen
one world end and another begin
many times over many years:
a kickstart show in the thirties,
sunrise warplanes rebuffed at Easter,
bare heads in ’56, bowed, beaten, unbent.
Then, three years ago, those fused rucksacks
turned it all inside out
through a fault that at its core is our own.
Bingeing on amnesia
is a habit hard to break.


The word has spread, the crowds are here.
Today flags, signs, hashtag anthems
leap from screen to screen, neck to neck,
head to heart, hope to despair and back.
The many are one,
you sing, hands clasped,
in a crisis finding
the conscience that will forever define you.
In time to come, you will remember
this was the day the impossible was possible,
the ineffable turned #effable,
and you and I saw in ourselves
the blame we’d painted on each other.
Late united, we wait for the sun to sink,
release the green flash that promises
wishes will be fulfilled — if not this night, then
tomorrow, or the day after tomorrow.


Three words now the big shout
against the kaak, kaak, kaak of crows
who’ve trashed not just this generation
but the one before and the one that comes after.
Will those who thickened their purses, their bellies,
now creep behind the cortege,
offering new inducements
to fill more hidden coffers?
Will their freshly minted avatars
find an older drumbeat
under the jubilation?


Imagine if a misguided pair
raised a child to be a king,
forgetting the line that divides the gifted from the sly.
See him grow insatiable; eat not only the hand that feeds him,
but the arm, the entire body. First one then the other parent,
the house, the heavenly land — the whole lot,
including, in a final act of gluttony, himself
starting with the left foot, bare & burnt,
then the right, moving up and in and out
until there is nothing left to swallow but the tongue
that in our innocence we had thought was ours.
Could it ever be?
Tomorrow’s roll call,
will tell only half the story: of buds bruised, awoken.
The other half is the struggle
for a cleaner future
that appears now
locked — but not, we pray, forever.
This is the green that has seen
one world end and another begin.


The featured painting is from Anoma Wijewardene’s 2016 exhibition, Mi Casa Es Tu Casa, which was inspired by the migration and refugee crisis and is a response to the rise and normalization of the unconscionable, the divisive and destructive forces of intolerance, hatred and bigotry. Perhaps Sri Lanka, which has so recently suffered the pain of conflict and loss, can be the beacon of hope, of values, of inclusion?